That's a million dollar question. Even when we have left the narcissist and we are no longer in the relationship dynamics, we cannot let go of the narcissist.
Even when we know we are hurting, we feel addicted to the person who is hurting. We rationalise and justify their behaviour and we turn the blame inward.
Why are we doing this?
We believe that this person is our source of love, security, approval and survival.
Most of us grew up believing abuse was love.
Often when we hear the word abuse, we think of severe abuse such as physical or sexual abuse. But, abuse isn't always severe. It's the every day messages that harmed who we are from our care givers when we were young.
Have you ever been in a situation where your parents punished you for mistakes you did and told you "We do this because we love you." As a teacher, I have seen this so often. Teachers would use their power authoritatively and would gaslight the children by saying, "it's for your own good".
No good comes out of fear induced punishments where children are made to comply instead of question and explore.
So, we grow up with survival habits to please the abuser believing that it's our life's purpose to serve them.
We don't believe that we are worthy of love unless we have earned it.
That's why we get stuck in relationships where one moment we feel like this person loves you and adores and the next moment, they pull the rug under your feet and go cold. We remain eternally confused. Our self doubt grows to the point where we no longer trust our decisions or our intuition.
It is possible to step outside this cycle and be in healthy relationships where you are consistently supported, loved and cared for. You can be in relationships where you don't have to earn love but instead you are loved for who you are.
We have often been made to believe that "will power" is what makes us get out of these situations. We continue to remain in these situations with learned helplessness. Will power does not help us get out of these situations. There's a different way to do that.
I have drawn a map of letting go of a narcissist and recovering from narcissistic abuse. You can find more information on the map on my individual programme page where I explain each aspect highlighted in the map.
Unless you get your life back, you are likely to pass down these cycles to your children. When your children see you empowering yourself, they grow up believing in their power despite their other parents who are narcissists and continue their emotional abuse.
You will read a lot more about the different aspects of narcissistic abuse recovery in that page. You can of course, have a chat with me and ask any questions you may have.
Yes, confronting this shift with inner work feels daunting. But please know what is scarier is not doing the inner work and staying hooked, tormented and continually re-traumatised without having the power to break away and look after yourself.
Sending you lots of love and light
Helping parents who co-parent with narcissistic partners or ex.